[permaculture] Permaculture wikis & making a major impact
Lawrence F. London, Jr.
venaurafarm at bellsouth.net
Thu Dec 24 02:57:47 EST 2009
One more to complete an introductory picture of Semantic MediaWiki for
those interested. The database-like query possibilities of SMW are very
interesting. This sentence sort of sums it up: "But though wikis are
very good for storing and retrieving individual facts, they are less
useful for getting queried or aggregated information." Amazing that this
app development happened and is available to us. See bottom of post:
Lawrence F. London, Jr. wrote:
> Lawrence F. London, Jr. wrote:
>> Lawrence F. London, Jr. wrote:
>>> Chris Watkins wrote:
>>>> There's a misconception that wikis will magically create a useful resource,
>>> Well, here's a little magic that could be made to happen:
>>> "Semantic MediaWiki (SMW) is a free extension of MediaWiki – the
>>> wiki-system powering Wikipedia – that helps to search, organise, tag,
>>> browse, evaluate, and share the wiki's content. While traditional wikis
>>> contain only text which computers can neither understand nor evaluate,
>>> SMW adds semantic annotations that let you easily publish Semantic Web
>>> content, and allow the wiki to function as a collaborative database."
>>> Note: " allow the wiki to function as a collaborative database".
>>> This is what we have been wanting for half a decade.
>> An enlightening testimonial about SMW:
>> "SMW is best of breed: open source with a very active community,
>> bringing together Web 2.0 (wikis) with the Semantic Web, thus
>> contributing to the emerging Social Semantic Web. An ideal mix to
>> combine the textual power of wikis with features of online databases and
>> Bernhard Krabina, KDZ - Centre for Public Administration Research "
>> So, it appears that there are user communities dedicated to a particular
>> subject that are becoming cyber communities united around the Semantic
>> Web architecture. We could be the first to originate the Permaculture
>> Semantic Web. Talk about a unifying global permaculture resource. This
>> could be what we are all wanting and needing.
> Another interesting testimonial:
> "I built a dynamic character sheet for the players of my game, in
> MediaWiki. It's been a breeze to maintain and update, I've got almost
> 200 pages or so feeding data into a single page through semantic data.
> It's a very powerful extension and I only wish all wikis had this kind
> of functionality.
> Brendan Crosser-McGay"
> Interesting that markup is so concentrated that 200 pages of data can be
> thoroughly acces by one SMW page.
> All my posting and replying with snippets here could and should be done
> in a Wiki page. Problem is those interested knowing it is there. Could
> create the wiki page then post a link here and ask for feedback. This
> thread could also exist in the pcdb list, for wiki developers rather
> than end users.
Why Semantic Mediawiki?
Wikis have become a great tool for collecting and sharing knowledge in
communities. This knowledge is mostly contained within texts and
multimedia files, and is thus easily accessible for human readers. But
though wikis are very good for storing and retrieving individual facts,
they are less useful for getting queried or aggregated information.. As
a simple example, consider the following question:
«What are the hundred world-largest cities with a female mayor?»
Wikipedia should be able to provide the answer: it contains all large
cities, their mayors, and articles about the mayor that tell us about
their gender. Yet the question is almost impossible to answer for a
human, since one would have to read all articles about all large cities
first! Even if the answer is found, it might not remain valid for very
long. Computers can deal with large datasets much easier, yet they are
not able to support us very much when seeking answers from a wiki: Even
sophisticated programs cannot yet read and «understand» human-language
texts unless the topic and language of the text is very restricted. The
wiki's keyword search does not help either.
Semantic MediaWiki enables wikis to make their knowledge
computer-processable, e.g. to answer the above question.
Where SMW can help
Semantic MediaWiki introduces some additional markup into the wiki-text
which allows users to add "semantic annotations" to the wiki. While this
first appears to make things more complex, it can also greatly simplify
the structure of the wiki, help users to find more information in less
time, and improve the overall quality and consistency of the wiki. Here
are some of the benefits of using SMW:
* Automatically-generated lists. Wikis tend to contain many
aggregated lists; Wikipedia itself has thousands, like "List of
metropolitan areas in Spain by population". Those lists are prone to
errors, since they have to be updated manually. Furthermore, the number
of potentially interesting lists is huge, and it is impossible to
provide all of them in acceptable quality. In SMW, lists are generated
automatically like this. They are always up-to-date and can easily be
customised to obtain further information.
* Visual display of information. The various display formats
defined by additional extensions, such as Semantic Result Formats and
Semantic Maps, allow for displaying of information in calendars,
timelines, graphs and maps, among others, providing a much richer view
of the data than simple lists would.
* Improved data structure. MediaWiki wikis tend to make heavy use
of categories for structuring data. While these are generally helpful,
consider the categories on Wikipedia called "Rivers in Buckinghamshire"
and "1620s deaths"; if the information in these pages were stored using
SMW, these categories could be replaced by simple queries, reducing the
need for a complex classification system. In addition, if semantic
markup within the wiki is stored within templates, otherwise known as
semantic templates, a wiki can easily gain a solid data structure. And
the Semantic Forms extension lets administators create forms for adding
and editing the data within semantic templates, thus making the addition
of semantic information possibly even easier and more straightforward
than regular wiki text.
* Searching information. Individual users can search for specific
information by creating their own queries, supported via extensions like
Halo and Semantic Drilldown.
* Inter-language consistency. In wikis that span multiple
languages, like Wikipedia, there is often a great deal of data
redundancy, which can lead to inconsistencies. For example, the
population of Edinburgh at the time of this writing is different in the
English, German, and French Wikipedias. If data is stored semantically,
you could, for instance, ask for the population of Bejing that is given
in the Chinese Wikipedia without knowing a single word of that language.
This can be exploited to have different languages query one another's
data, either for reuse or at least to detect inconsistencies.
* External reuse. Data, once it is created in an SMW wiki, does not
have to remain within the wiki; it can easily be exported via formats
like CSV, JSON and RDF. This enables an SMW wiki to serve as a data
source for other applications, or, in the case of enterprise usages, to
take over the role that a relational database would normally play.
Through the use of the External Data extension and the result format
Exhibit, one SMW-based wiki can even use the data from another,
eliminating the need for redundancy between wikis. You can also query
the semantic data in SMW from remote and feed the query results into
other applications. This can e.g. be realized via the Triple Store
* Integrate and mash-up data. Data contained in an SMW installation
does not have to be an isolated store of information. Extensions such as
the Data Import, Data Transfer and External Data extensions empower you
to integrate external data (coming e.g. from legacy systems, web
services or linked data sources) and interrelate it with existing
semantic data in the wiki. Thus, an SMW-powered wiki can serve as a
central information hub in an IT landscape.
More information about the permaculture